Senior Driving – When It’s Time To Stop

by Claudette E. Paäge
No one wants to cause a crash or hurt someone on the road, but it can be hard to accept that it’s time for an older driver to stop driving. Because driving abilities vary greatly from person to person there’s no set age at which it becomes unsafe to drive. A 90-year-old, for example, can be a better driver than a 25-year-old. However, the inevitable physical changes that accompany aging can impact a person’s ability to drive safely, and statistics show that older drivers account for a disproportionate number of crashes and fatalities.

The age-related changes that impact driving include:

  • Slower reflexes and response time.
  • Decline in vision and hearing.
  • Drowsiness due to medications or general fatigue.
  • Inability to concentrate or focus on a task.

Driving Tips for Westchester, New York Seniors

Some senior citizens abruptly lose the ability to drive while for others it’s a gradual process. Seniors may be able to stay safe on the road longer if they:

  • Sit high enough to see the road at least ten feet in front of the car.
  • Keep windshields, mirrors, and headlights clean.
  • Have their eyes checked annually and wear glasses with the current prescription.
  • Drive a car with automatic transmission, power steering, and anti-lock brakes.
  • Limit noise from passengers and sound systems.
  • Drive familiar routes and allow plenty of time.
  • Don’t drive at night, during rush hours, or on highways. Keep a safe distance from the car in front.
  • Take a safe driving course for seniors.

When It’s Time To Stop Senior Driving

Driving is about freedom, independence, and control over one’s life. By the time they have reached their senior years, most drivers have been behind the wheel their entire adult lives-maybe 50 years or more. The end of driving is a major life transition, and should be addressed with utmost respect. In the best of all worlds seniors will stop driving voluntarily when they realize they can no longer drive safely. Sometimes a close call or a traffic ticket makes them realize it’s time to stop.

Sadly, it may take a crash to get a senior citizen to turn in the keys. Intervening before someone gets hurt takes both firmness and compassion. Seniors may get upset, defensive and even angry. It may help to point out the challenges they have been having on the road and the possible consequences of their continued driving. Suggesting other ways of getting around (friends, family, public transportation, senior services) may soften the blow.

Help for Children of Aging Parents in Westchester

Often children will seek the help of an objective person outside the family to talk with their aging parent about driving. Because seniors may resent having their children tell them what they can and cannot do, medical providers, clergy, or elder care professionals may be better positioned to have this conversation. But what happens if a loved one refuses to stop driving? In communities with large populations of senior citizens like Westchester County New York, the elderly and others with cognitive decline can be tested to address the issue and receive a report of warning to the driver. A trusted medical professional can also tell a senior it’s no longer safe to drive. If all reasoning fails it may be necessary for you, without any support, to take away the keys or disable the car.

Claudette Paage is a confidential financial and senior care consultant for busy professionals, individuals and families and retirees. She has made a career out of helping people wrest control over the challenges of everyday living. If you or a loved one need help for a Westchester senior driver, Claudette can help. Contact her for the nearest facility that conducts regular driving tests for seniors. Please call 914-725-0343 when you have senior care related questions or need assistance for a loved one.

Article Source:

February 13, 2012

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